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What you always wanted to know about Marketing Automation

Marketing automation and what you need to know

Marketing automation is no longer hype, says the market research institute Gartner. Marketing and sales automation have arrived in the mainstream. But what is the situation in Germany? What concrete benefits can companies expect from it? What does the introduction of such a method mean for marketing and sales departments in companies? What new business areas are opening up?

The specialist book "Marketing and Sales Automation" provides the answers. The publisher is Prof Uwe Hannig (IFSMA). We took a look and filtered out 8 points for you.

1. Germany cannot keep up

While the proportion of marketing automation users in the UK has long since reached the 43% mark, according to a survey, the figure in Germany is only 29%. The reason: system providers are failing to show companies the benefits of a sales automation solution. And to provide them with transparency about the costs of implementation. A kind of creeping fear of the consequences of rapid digitalisation is palpable.

A mistake: because digitalisation is no longer an option, it will soon be a must.

2. Marketing Automation is Change Management

Many people confuse marketing automation with software that automatically sends emails. But far from it:

Marketing and sales automation is changing the traditional relationships between marketing and sales and interlinking them much more than before. This is because sales must already be involved in the definition of buyer personas. After all, buyer personas are the basis for a personalised, automated communication campaign to work at all.

In addition, the sales department must work with the marketing department to define the objectives and handover rules and contribute to the definition of a lead scoring system.

The marketing department, for its part, does not limit itself to the implementation of a campaign, but continuously adjusts communication with its customers. This, in turn, is only possible with the help of a cycle of all information. Ideally, a CRM system is at the centre of this cycle.

3. Buyer personas are not customer profiles

Many - in the company and in the agencies - believe that a buyer persona is a collection of demographic and sociographic details:

Susi, 40 years old, IT manager, married, one dog. That's nice, but it doesn't help! The decisive factor is analysing the purchasing decision process:

What challenges does Susi face every day?

  What paths does Susi take before making a purchase decision?

  What channels does she use to obtain information?

  What situation triggered the decision to look for a solution?

Successful marketers work in a customer-centred way.

Product-centred messages are a relic of the past. But how do you get to know the "challenges" of customers?

Consultant Roland Burkholz sees three methodological approaches:

  1. The guessig-game approach, in which sales and marketing brainstorm to define a buyer persona.

  2. The multi-method research design approach, in which qualitative and quantitative methods are used together: Web analytics and social media data are analysed, interviews are conducted with sales employees and quantitative survey studies are used. However, this approach is very time-consuming and costly.

  3. Burkholz favours a third approach: open, intensive one-to-one buyer personas interviews with representatives of the target group.

4. Sales automation is just as important as marketing automation
What use is the best marketing automation process if the potential customer is not "taken by the hand" in the end?

In the end, it's the personal contact that counts. And the smoother and more professional this is, the higher the closing rate. Sales expert Manfred Aull argues in favour of sales automation in the sales department.

Sales automation is the IT-supported implementation of recurring sales tasks. Its aim is to increase the efficiency of sales processes and decisions.

An action- and ROI-focussed sales software

should include a dashboard with variables such as:

In this way, the sales department can see at a glance where there is business potential and where there is not. And focusses on the right topics with the right employees at the right time. This is the only way to fill the sales funnel and achieve a realistic sales forecast.

5. A CRM system closes the gap between marketing and sales

The good news: 76% of German software companies use CRM solutions. Most of these are used by the sales department. The bad news: Only 40% also integrate a marketing automation system into the CRM. The consequence: marketing and sales remain separate data silos!

Publicist and digitalisation expert Tim Cole is calling on German companies:

The networking of marketing and sales must be a top priority over the next ten years.

The former CEO of Cisco Systems, John Chambers, puts it even more drastically:

According to the top manager, the majority of companies will be pushed to the brink of insignificance by digital disruption in 10-15 years if they do not make a paradigm shift!

Marketing automation can close this gap. Marketing automation makes it possible to track all information on prospective customers during the campaign and automatically transfer it to the CRM.

And this also applies to "cold" leads that show little interest. In the past, these were generally simply not processed. Not so with marketing automation solutions. They make it possible to determine at which point in the customer journey the lead "dropped out". If this information flows back into the CRM system and the marketing department has access to it, they can identify it and reactivate it with a new, customised, "softer" marketing automation campaign.

6. Digitalisation must also take effect in indirect sales

A functioning CRM system allows marketing and sales to be more closely interlinked. And marketing automation speeds up the process and makes it more transparent. However, what many experts fail to consider when it comes to marketing automation and CRM systems is the question:

What about external sales partners?

They are not part of the organisation. And for the most part, they do not work on a shared database or CRM system. This often results in a break in the tracking of the customer journey. The reason: there is often no digital feedback that provides information about customer conversations, sales potential of the lead, business status, etc.

People still work manually with Excel lists - or by phone and notepad. There is no digital process anywhere! No matter how sophisticated the marketing automation system is and how comprehensive the CRM is - if lead information is not fed back from the partner channel, it is ultimately difficult to determine the ROI of a campaign. It then becomes just as difficult to decide how to proceed with the customer or prospective customer. In this way, databases slowly dry up!

It is therefore important that sales partners are also digitally connected to the company. For example, they should have access to leads generated by marketing automation campaigns. This process is supported by leadtributor. Processes monitor the processing and ensure absolutely that every customer is processed promptly and that all information on the processing status is up to date.

7. The future lies in the cloud

Companies that use marketing automation solutions have seen a 62% increase in the probability of closing a deal. The trend is just as unstoppable in the B2B sector as it is in the B2C sector. Soon we will no longer be talking about B2C or B2B, but B2P (Business to People).

The same applies to all of them: reaching the right people with the right content at the right time.

Companies will increasingly benefit from marketing cloud offerings that make all marketing solutions quick and easy to use based on a modular principle: Content creation, lead scoring, forecast functions, ROI analyses - the entire customer journey is increasingly being supported by cloud offerings.

8. Artificial intelligence (AI) on the rise

It will be easier and easier to collect data on target persons (buyer personas) at a very early stage and, above all, to analyse and interpret it! In this way, marketers will be able to develop a marketing strategy earlier and earlier. With suitable content for the right target person on the right communication channel.

Increasingly sophisticated AI tools that collect personal data on the web and make it usable in the marketing cloud serve this purpose. What's more, behavioural patterns are even becoming recognisable, which increasingly allow predictive marketing - the prediction of customer needs. And this in turn promises highly individualised, almost one-to-one communication.


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